Chechen President Alu Alkhanov arrived at the top of the region's pro-Moscow political elite after a long and successful career in the Russian police.
Alkhanov has put his faith in business rather than clan loyalties
The late Akhmad Kadyrov was a rebel warlord who went over to the Russian side during the second Chechen war but Mr Alkhanov's loyalty to Russia appears never to have been in doubt.
As head of the transport police in Grozny in 1995-96, he was decorated for valour for his part in resisting rebel attacks on the Chechen capital.
The separatist leadership has made no secret of its aim of killing him, too.
Said not to be a natural politician, Mr Alkhanov based his programme for the presidential election in August on fighting corruption and encouraging investment in the war-ruined Chechen Republic.
Whatever his chances of success - let alone survival in Chechnya's lethal politics - he must always grapple with the accusation that he was hastily plucked by Moscow from relative obscurity to fill the gap left by
"The Kremlin wanted someone from Kadyrov's team and a military man, and there was no one outstanding," said Movsur Khamidov, an electoral rival.
The Chechen separatist movement which erupted into violent conflict with Moscow after the collapse of the USSR never appealed to Mr Alkhanov, he has made clear.
ALU DADASHEVICH ALKHANOV
Born in 1957 and educated at Soviet police college
Served in transport police in Chechnya and Rostov Region
Promoted to Chechen interior minister in April 2003
Married with three children
"Even though I was young, I knew in 1991 what [Chechen separatist leader Dzhokhar] Dudayev's
arrival would bring and where it would all lead," he told supporters in Moscow just before the election.
He personally led a police unit fighting rebels in Grozny in August 1996.
After Russia's retreat from the region in 1996, he took up a police post in the south Russian mining town of Shakhty.
When the Russian army returned in 1999, Mr Alkhanov followed and eventually became regional interior minister in 2003.
He received minor injuries in the bomb attack which killed Kadyrov at a World War II Victory parade on 9 May.
Aslan Maskhadov, the successor to Dudayev, has pledged to kill the winner of Chechnya's presidential election.
"He will always wait, afraid of another explosion," he said.
Appeal to business
Despite the endorsement of Ramzan Kadyrov, the late president's youthful son, Mr Alkhanov lacks the kind of close network of personal supporters which Akhmad Kadyrov enjoyed.
Instead, he has appealed to the Chechen business community for its support.
In particular, he has called on Chechens living in Russia's big cities to return to their homeland, where he hopes to create a free economic zone.
"The [Chechen] nation's elite are our main hope," he recently told a meeting of the Chechen diaspora in Moscow.
But companies are reluctant to invest in a tiny region gripped by violence and uncertainty for more than a decade.
Alu Alkhanov's surest support is likely to remain Russian President Vladimir Putin, himself a former secret policeman.